What’s a sustainability director?

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A sustainability officer, also known as a chief sustainability officer, is a company employee responsible for setting and maintaining environmental standards. They encourage eco-friendly practices in the office and work to make the company’s products more sustainable. While some criticize the position as greenwashing, others argue that it incentivizes companies to behave sustainably and can save money by reducing energy costs.

A sustainability officer is a company employee who acts as a compliance officer to set and maintain environmental standards. The company’s position on such employees varies, with many hovering around the vice president position, and they might be referred to as chief sustainability officers (CSOs). Sustainability executives deal with environmental standards in the office, making sure the company runs its day-to-day business in an eco-friendly way and that they are also involved in making the company’s products more sustainable.

Sustainability officers have been developed in the business world in response to consumers’ growing concerns about the environment. Like many business innovations, once several companies embraced the idea, many others quickly followed suit because they didn’t want to be left behind. While some critics have suggested that appointing sustainability directors amounts to greenwashing, in which a company tries to make its environmental image more attractive by providing the illusion of responsibility, others argue that pushing sustainability programs has a positive environmental benefit, incentivizing companies to behave in a sustainable way.

In the office, a sustainability director can do things like encourage employees to go paperless, use recycled paper, establish recycling programs, and institute low-flush restrooms. Sustainability officers are also involved in renovating existing offices and designing new ones, offering sustainable building options that will increase energy efficiency. In addition to making the company look good by showing that it has a commitment to environmental responsibility, a chief sustainability officer also helps the company save money by reducing energy costs and making the office run more efficiently.

Sustainability directors also work with companies to make their products more sustainable. Your work can include simple steps like ensuring orders are packaged and shipped together rather than separately to reduce shipping, or more complex steps like redesigning existing products to include sustainable materials. A chief sustainability officer may also be involved in company environmental programs, such as pledges to plant trees on behalf of customers or sponsorship of environmental organizations.

Viewed cynically, a chief sustainability officer enhances your company’s reputation in a market where being green is a hot commodity. Having a chief sustainability officer also allows a company to compete with similar companies, making such employees a necessity even if the company doesn’t care about the environment. However, these members of the corporate world also provide a valuable service by promoting environmental initiatives, showing companies how they can do business in a way that minimally impacts the environment, and helping to preserve the environment for future generations.

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